Hopefully not a sneak preview of June 2013.
A little over two months ago, I wrote about how I was enjoying "the entertaining mess" that was this Twins' season. In the interim, the "mess" part has remained, but the entertaining part...it's harder to find. It's still there, but boy, you have to look: Perkins/Burton being reliable 8th/9th inning options on the too-rare occasions when they're given a lead to protect, the mostly healthy and productive seasons of the two franchise cornerstones, Josh Willingham's career year, the promise displayed at one point or another by Ben Revere, Trevor Plouffe, Chris Parmelee, etc.
The glaring, giant, huge, intractable, Ann-as-the-nose-on-plain's-face effing problem is starting pitching. Nowhere is this more evident than the fact that we're actually pondering if Samuel Deduno is a viable 2013 rotation option, even though he's 29 and NO ONE KNOWS WHERE THE BALL IS GOING WHEN IT LEAVES HIS HAND. THIS IS A PROBLEM FOR 19-YEAR-OLD ELIZABETHTON PROSPECTS, NOT SOMEONE WHO WILL BE 30 NEXT YEAR AND ISN'T A KNUCKLEBALLER. END ALL CAPS. With Scott Diamond tiring/slumping as he creeps up on 200 innings, an already dire situation grows murkier. Terry Ryan has said he doesn't necessarily see the Twins being active in the FA market for pitching, so they're either:
- trading for arms;
- hoping that some combination of Kyle Gibson, Scott Baker, Liam Hendriks, Nick Blackburn, P.J. Walters, Diamond, Deduno and god knows who else (Dave Goltz?) becomes a major league-ready rotation; or
- Ryan is artfully misleading us, and the Twins will overspend to bring in a top-of-the-rotation starter(s).
It better be #1, #3 or some combination thereof, because #2 is almost criminally negligent. I don't think it'll be the latter, because, well, they don't want pictures like this from Target Field on Wednesday night to start happening in May or June of 2013. It may be bad business to commit $60 million over four years to a guy who's had one solid season as a starter and could tear a rotator cuff tomorrow, but it's inarguably worse business to hope all the in-house options and next year's Jason Marquis will equal a competitive rotation.
The bullpen and the offense are improved from last year, and the Twins are still exactly where they were in 2011. With no guarantees that these improvements will continue or even stay constant, the Twins have one way of getting out of this jam in 2013, and it's going to involve trading away players you like and/or signing pitchers for too much money. If they're not going to do that, expect more of the same. If not worse.